I was never the girl who broke the rules.

I was never the girl who colored outside of the lines.

I was never the girl who embraced the middle ground or gray area. I was an all or nothing thinker; black and white.

I was never the girl who cut class or failed to hand in her homework.

I was never the girl who had a curfew or needed my breath sniffed for alcohol or cigarettes by my parents when I came home after a night out.

I was never the girl who had many boyfriends or friends.

I was never the girl who took off, traveling abroad a semester of college, carefree, being a tourist with her college friends.

I was too busy trying to kick-start my career, overachieving in the back corner of the library, and stuck in a web of struggles.

I was never the girl who got invited to a million bachelorette parties. I don’t have pictures of myself with five other best friends posing with our arms around each other, drinks in hands, toasting to the bride-to-be. I wasn’t that girl for a long time. The one who everyone wanted to be friends with. The one who could be a friend.

I was too stuck in my head, trying to achieve while trying to cope with the stress I put on myself to be something—that person I’d finally love and respect. I didn’t know that comes from happiness within, not accomplishments. I didn’t know a lot of things. I wasn’t truly living. I was going through the motions—existing.

I was a non-entity for most of my life. People forgot about me. Their lives went on, and mine remained on pause. Achievements, I had many, while my experiences were empty.

I was never the girl who did anything out of the box. I didn’t go outside my comfort zone. You can’t grow and evolve when you stay in your four-cornered box. I took refuge in my box until it became unhealthy and unlivable—but that took far too long. 

I was never the girl who followed my passions. I was too afraid of failing. I was too scared to enter a storm because the what ifs were more terrifying than trying to sail through uncharted waters and sinking.

But I won’t look back with regret.

Because I am the woman who appreciates where she is.

I am the woman who now knows exactly who she is.

I am the woman who is a healthy role model for her beautiful children.

I am the woman who takes in experiences and really appreciates them.

I am the woman who doesn’t take her role of motherhood for granted.

If things went differently, maybe I wouldn’t be the same person. Maybe I wouldn’t have the same knowledge that came from my struggles. Maybe I wouldn’t have the family I have now. Maybe I wouldn’t have the same appreciation for the mundane—like being fed by my two-year-old and accepting each bite she feeds me without hesitation. Like being able to go to the splash pad and play with my girls in the water and not be insecure about how my body looks in my bathing suit. Not even thinking twice about it. Just appreciating the experience and what my body can do, completely immersed in the fun with my family.

It was worth never being the girl because that girl—became the woman and mother I am today.

Dani Sherman-Lazar

Dani Sherman-Lazar is an eating disorder advocate, Vice President of a transportation company, and a mother to three daughters. Follow her on her blog Living a Full Life After ED and like it on Facebook. Her book Living Full: Winning My Battle with Eating Disorders is available on Amazon.